Generally I think of transcendence in Kantian terms and Schopenhauer. I am not sure what the American idea is. I never really got that straight. [This was not something treated in high school. My vague impression was the American approach  was tending towards empiricism--not rationalism. Most people did not talk about this much, and to the degree people were interested in that they went into Eastern religions. I though I was impressed with Chinese philosophy I did not see much in Eastern religions.--That is their taste for transcendence was with no limit. There was plain materialism one one side, and if that was not enough, then kids had to find the most exotic religion they could. The more weird, the better.]

[Hegel agreed but though the window into the transcendent was through dialectics which seems to be reason but also takes into account spirit.]

I think perhaps you could say that people were confused. The traditional Judaic-Christian  values did not seem to hold any water. Philosophy, whether European or British-American, was simply all about words and their meanings. If words had any meaning at all was thought to be untrue.
But people would not know their own motivations. They would hide the truth even from themselves.

The major thing was to go into "weird-kite" (weird-ism) as much as possible, and to be sure along the way to get ones needs met. If possible to use the weird-kite as a means to get those physical and spiritual needs met. The main religion was "Weird-ism". It did not matter to which major denominations or world religions it was. As long as it was weird, it was OK and even praiseworthy.

There is not enough time to go into the many variations this unquenchable thirst for weirdness takes even today. I'm sure my readers can supply their own examples in abundance. The trouble with all this is it rarely leads in the realm of holiness. In fact, it seems often to lead into the Sitra Achra (the Dark Realm) disguised as holiness. The more holy they claim to be the more you can be sure of just the opposite.
This would be the perfect spot to write down my solution to this problem--if only I had one! But I do have a workable approach based on my parents which is the Ten Commandments. That is the idea that good character leads to true transcendence in the realm of Holiness. [I really do not know how to put this any clearer. It was a very well known idea during the Middle Ages but since then was forgotten.]